Friday, July 31, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 20

I am a GitHub Arctic Code Vault Contributor.
I have named my project, Sintra (Self-adaptive Inter-domain Network Transfers for Radiology). Sintra is a romantic and historic town in Portugal that I love. It is touristic and quite close to Lisboa, well-connected by train and bus. I used to name a few of my projects with Portuguese town names during my PhD: Sendim, Óbidos, and Évora were those 3 towns. Now, Sintra becomes the 4th Portuguese town which name my project after. Interestingly, all those 3 projects were implemented during my stay in INESC-ID Lisboa, Portugal. This is the first time outside Portugal. But that doesn't matter anyway. I name my project whatever I want, and that makes me happy. :P

My initial plan for the work-from-home/lockdown era was to "somehow survive" it, as many of my plans came to a virtual halt. I was assuming it to last only a few weeks, maybe until May 2020. But now I come to the realization that the pandemic is here to stay, perhaps even for the whole of 2021. I cannot be in a "survival mode" for a year to come.

Seeking entertainment from my friend in class, 2012
The forced separation of families due to the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions has left many of us home alone. However, replacing that with the shallow online communications (such as Twitter) is counter-productive in the long run. Now we are looking at the scale of years, rather than weeks! Even if most people don't really care about you on Twitter (I am referring to social media as "twitter" as it is the only social medium I use), the "likes," "retweets," and supporting comments from random Twitter people can be reassuring when there is no actual human interaction for months.

An economic depression is inevitable. It will cripple the developed world. Globalization, especially working in foreign countries, will become challenging. Already nations are adopting "citizens first" approach, closing their borders to foreign employees. We received an email, informing a pay cut of 5%. This comes in addition to the removal of the annual 3% cost-of-living increment of the salary. That is sad news this week. Depending on how I will see it, 2021 can be either a challenging or a difficult year. I must prepare to fight it, rather than taken by the waves in a survival mode.

Regardless of all these, companies do not stop sending me random emails, congratulating me for being a loyal customer, which I clearly am not.
I also aim to be better prepared to fight this uncertainty that waits for me in mid-2021. In the meantime, focus and optimize for the pandemic life, in a positive manner.
You know your perception of time is messed up when you go, "oh, I miss those good old days," when you refer to 2020 early January, literally just half a year ago. Crazy days, indeed. Cheers for August!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 19

Allatoona Lake
Summer is here - but we had to be extra careful to avoid human contacts due to the pandemic. Atlanta is not close to any beach. But at least some lakes are relatively proximate. The most remarkable one is Lake Lanier. We visited the Flowery Branch / Old federal day-use beach, which had a sandy beach by the warm lake's shore during the weekend. The previous weekend, we also paid a visit to the Red Top Mountain State Park and Allatoona Lake. On the way back, a quick visit to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. Although I like to roam around cities, I had to change my travel habits to avoid human contact this year.

This week was less productive. There were some blocking issues at work that I was trying to figure out. Besides, the pandemic, travel restrictions, and on-going lock-down with no end in sight indeed take a heavy toll on happiness, although I try my best to focus on work and remain somewhat positive. However, it is mostly an up-and-down pendulum.

Most positive messages that are shared in social media and elsewhere for COVID19 aim at those who live in their home country with their family, as in, "Although you are forced to stay home, you are with your family. Don't worry, you are at least safe in your country." But many of us have been involuntarily separated by the travel restrictions and the deadly pandemic. Besides, as most nations tighten their immigration, it is not very clear about the future in our host countries. One thing for sure is, COVID19 has crippled globalization and normalcy bias for the foreseeable future. It will leave a permanent scar on humanity, as I see it.

Twitter is the only social medium that I use actively. I use it to communicate with my fellow humans. Although I also have a LinkedIn, I use it more like a CV, rather than a social medium. I don't use other social media. This made my Twitter use to increase, as it also has now become my major communication medium with fellow humans.

These days I frequently listened to some great Guzheng covers, as I stay home. They are nice to hear. No idea how time passes. But it goes on. We are in the midsummer, and that is good. All my hope is, this pandemic does not ruin our 2021. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst (?). I see these weekly posts as a tracker on time and a record for my future reference on how I felt during the deadly pandemic. Beyond that, I do not really see anything interesting out of it, at least from how I see this currently. These posts also mark the end of the week, together with the weekly virtual coffee hours that we have every Friday 3 - 4:30 p.m via Zoom.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 18

Our weekly remote coffee hour, with our alter-egos
The time is relatively going quick for such a boring period. COVID19 has forced us all to work remotely. That means, we can work from random locations. However, COVID19 also has forced us to stay indoors to avoid exposure. As such, we are in a weird block of time where weekends and weekdays do not have much difference. However, I make sure not to work on weekends and rather focus on the other tasks (such as cleaning the apartment, practicing Portuguese, and making myself cocktails). We also have that Friday 3 - 4:30 pm weekly coffee hours, which makes a beautiful shift from the workweek to the weekend amid this pandemic.

I associate memories with the songs. That means, when I listen to a song later, I recall the times that I listened to them for the first time. Unfortunately, that means, I am going to have bad memories associated with all the songs that I first listened to in 2020. I still hope that 2020 can end in a positive note. Only time will tell, and time is indeed running out for 2020.

There is some positive news on vaccine progress. Hope things come out well soon. Apart from that, we are moving on with our new "boring" normal.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 17

2020 is the year that shakes the normalcy bias in all of us. On a positive note, it might prepare us for future dangers, such as climate change that rapidly submerge the island nations. It also can make working from home and remote work a norm. Countries such as Estonia and Barbados are proposing a nomad work visa, which is a good thing. On a negative note, the pandemic saw nations vilifying each other, rather than trying to tackle it together. It shows that politics before humanity. Sad situation. The blame was aptly put on the foreigners. Even foreign students with valid visas have been asked to leave the country unless they have in-person classes. This has made us all realize that next year we might have to leave as some of our visas are expiring and extending may not be possible. The days are up and down - and mostly down.

I was under the assumption that as the pandemic spreads across all the nations, countries will choose to open their borders as closing the borders to every nation will be infeasible. But, as the virus spread to different nations at different time frames everyone chose to close the borders to each other, fearing the re-introduction of the virus. Sri Lanka seems to have its second wave now. The USA also has faced an increase in the number of cases since the reopening. Consequently, Atlanta has reverted to its phase-I. How long will this go? No one knows. It seems more and more likely that we will need to live with COVID-19 as a reality, just like another regular virus. It can even be another on-going long-term pandemic such as the HIV AIDS pandemic.

A photo thread on making of banana liquor from Everclear:

A photo thread on my life in Portugal:

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 16

This was a long weekend week. I almost forgot it! Anyway, when a long weekend comes, we still try to compress the whole week of meetings and work into 4 days, and as such the difference becomes less.

My personal bar currently has:
Everclear 95%
Cherry Moonshine 50%
ABSOLUTvodka_US 40%
Malibu black Coconut 35%
Crème de Menthe 30%
Crème de Cacao 24%
@Kahlua 20%
Amaretto 20%
Irish cream 17%
Peach Schnapps 15% 
Grenadine Syrup
Org orange juice
Heavy cream
Vanilla ice cream.
I also got the notification that OTM/CoopIS 2020 has been canceled. I was planning to submit a paper there, after our successful presentations there for CoopIS 2015 and 2016. This is quite sad. This is the first conference canceled due to COVID-19 that I encountered so far. All the other conferences managed to go virtual.

Unfortunately, we have to cancel OTM and hence CoopIS 2020
Dear Pradeeban Kathiravelu,

As PC chairs for the CoopIS conference we regret to let you know that the conference will not run finally during this year.

Taking it from the whole set of conference organisers: "As you might appreciate some of the people on whose effort we must rely for organising a complex quality event just could not free the time for this as they had to cope with, in some cases, absolute family survival. Also voluntary work understandably is in very short supply these days."

It seems to have been a hard decision from the organising committee, where a set of circumstances (including family-related ones) have provoked the final decision, and we are sorry that you had already invested your time on preparing a paper for it.

We hope to be able to resume next year.

On July 13th, I received another email from easychair:

Cancellation of CoopIS conference edition in 2020
OTM 2020

Sorry if you have already receive a previous communication from us. This communication is meant to be for those authors that have submitted their contributions in the last week.

Unfortunately, the organising committee of the OTM series of conferences has decided to cancel the conference series, something that is beyond the control of us as PC chairs. We have tried to communicate it in as many places as possible (including the website, which is currently down), and we are sorry that you have been working on your submissions these days. We have not been able to cancel the easychair installation either.

Regards, and apologies for the inconveniences,

So it seems there were some unfortunate creative differences between the conference organization due to COVID19. Hope things will get better soon. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

[SDS 2020] Latency-Sensitive Web Service Workflows: A Case for a Software-Defined Internet

July 2nd: Today the Seventh International Conference on Software Defined Systems (SDS) went virtual. I had to present my paper "Latency-Sensitive Web Service Workflows: A Case for a Software-Defined Internet" in Paris at this conference. But, due to COVID19, we all uploaded the presentations with audio recordings. The sessions were asynchronous. But the keynotes were live, followed by Q&A. Due to this approach, the conference lasted only one morning 8 am - 1 pm Atlanta time (1 - 6 pm Paris time). The keynotes went on for 8 - 12 followed by an hour-long discussion with all the participants. This additional hour allowed us to network. However, we all noted that it cannot replace the physical networking that we usually have at the SDS conferences.

This is the last paper of my Ph.D. research. My Ph.D. was indeed an interesting 5 years of my life!

Abstract — The Internet, at large, remains under the control of service providers and autonomous systems. The Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing provide an increasing demand and potential for more user control for their web service workflows. Network Softwarization revolutionizes the network landscape in various stages, from building, incrementally deploying, and maintaining the environment. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are two core tenets of network softwarization. SDN offers a logically centralized control plane by abstracting away the control of the network devices in the data plane. NFV virtualizes dedicated hardware middleboxes and deploys them on top of servers and data centers as network functions. Thus, network softwarization enables efficient management of the system by enhancing its control and improving the reusability of the network services. In this work, we propose our vision for a Software-Defined Internet (SDI) for latency-sensitive web service workflows. SDI extends network softwarization to the Internet-scale, to enable a latency-aware user workflow execution on the Internet.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

How to increase a Kong timeout with no down time?

I have a Kong API gateway deployment with several services. The default Kong timeout is set to 1 mins, which fails several of our API requests. Now I want to change them to 10 mins, without going through too much trouble. What should I do? I found this nice tool called Deck, thanks to a blogpost.

The default status of a service configuration
First, install Deck.

Then, we test backup, alter, and restore Kong configurations.

To test, let's create a service definition.
$ curl -i -X POST --url http://localhost:8001/services/ --data 'name=v4' --data 'url='

Check the services via a browser (or a curl command, if you prefer it that way).


Notice the timeouts are 60,000. This is 60,000 ms. i.e., 1 min by default. Let's increase it to 10 min, with Deck!


1. Dump the configuration:

$ deck dump

This creates a kong.yaml in the current directory.

$ cat kong.yaml
_format_version: "1.1"
- connect_timeout: 60000
  name: v4
  path: /services/v4
  port: 9099
  protocol: http
  read_timeout: 60000
  retries: 5
  write_timeout: 60000

  Modify the connect_timeout, read_timeout, and write_timeout as 600000 (from their default value of 60000) via a text editor.

2.  Check the changes:

  $ deck diff

updating service v4  {
-  "connect_timeout": 60000,
+  "connect_timeout": 600000,
-  "created_at": 1.593636546e+09,
   "host": "",
   "id": "5c25f92f-d3d0-486f-9a8e-9c406a130501",
   "name": "v4",
   "path": "/services/v4",
   "port": 9099,
   "protocol": "http",
-  "read_timeout": 60000,
+  "read_timeout": 600000,
   "retries": 5,
-  "updated_at": 1.593636546e+09,
-  "write_timeout": 60000
+  "write_timeout": 600000

  Created: 0
  Updated: 1
  Deleted: 0

3. Commit the changes:

$ deck sync

Confirm the changes are reflected, from the browser. Yep, it worked. Everything updated with zero downtime.

Timeouts are set to 10 mins (600,000) now, from 1 mins!

Spam comments with garbage links

I keep getting more and more garbage comments on this blog. Comments are moderated. Therefore they don't really make it unless I manually approve.

Now the spammers are getting creative. They post some positive generic praise before positing their garbage link. In fact, it is most often just a bot that crawls the web and posts random comments. Sometimes it is a crowdsourced effort. Each comments receives a few cents. The generic praise is just to sound relevant and trick the moderator to approve the spam. It also tries to make random readers to click the link once the spam comment is approved (often, by mistake).

Sharing a few garbage comments my blog posts have received below, after removing the link (why would I post the garbage link myself? lol).

Mr Asj has left a new comment on your post "Is a Scam?":

Hi, there very cool web site. I’m glad to find useful information. Well written. For more amazing info visit once [GARBAGE-LINK]

Micheal Alexander has left a new comment on your post "[KDD 2015] MEDIator: A Data Sharing Synchronizatio...":

Great blog. All posts have something to learn. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts [GARBAGE-LINK]

seo seller has left a new comment on your post "Fake reviews and":

[GARBAGE-LINK] These you will then see the most important thing, the application provides you a website a powerful important internet page: [GARBAGE-LINK]

^^ OK, this dude is greedy. He has added 2 garbage links.


Shehab has left a new comment on your post "Is a Scam?":

You are very articulate and explain your ideas and opinions clearly leaving no room for miscommunication.
Please Kindly check My web: [GARBAGE-LINK]

************* has left a new comment on your post "Is a Scam?":

You are very articulate and explain your ideas and opinions clearly leaving no room for miscommunication.Please Kindly check My web: [GARBAGE-LINK]


Unknown has left a new comment on your post "Is a Scam?":









^^ OK, this is most definitely a bot, a stupid one. It has added 8 garbage links and only those.


Arrow Estates LLC has left a new comment on your post "Is a Scam?":

[GARBAGE-LINK] GARBAGE-COMPANY provides real estate solutions to homeowners that want to sell fast without paying any extra realtor fees.

^^ Some spams at least try to praise my post in a generic manner before throwing their irrelevant garbage link. This comment comes directly to elaborate its garbage company following the garbage link.